The number of shoppers in Scotland is lagging far behind the UK as a whole, according to a new report.
Figures published by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) show that the total retail footfall last month was -2.5% in Scotland compared with last year while the UK collectively managed an average increase of 0.8% over the same period.
Experts hope that the situation will improve with the onset of spring bringing better weather and consumer opportunities such as Easter.
Six out of seven English regions reported a rise, including Greater London, which managed a 5.8% increase. Northern Ireland also had a positive result of 2.6% while Wales suffered a small decrease of 0.5%.
The poorest figure came from North England and Yorkshire with -2.7%, closely followed by Scotland, according to the SRC/Springboard footfall monitor. The low footfall rates for Scotland in February are a reflection of low levels of consumer confidence and lower levels of sales growth, according to SRC director Fiona Moriarty.
She said: "Although February's sales figures showed some encouraging signs of improvement, we are reminded that the economic and trading environment remains fragile. Scottish retailers will be hoping that the arrival of spring and seasonal lifts from Mother's Day and Easter help to elevate this underwhelming figure into more positive territory in the coming months."
UK-wide footfall fell for both out-of-town destinations and shopping centres but the high street saw the first annual increase for three months, reaching 2.7%, and the largest increase in one month since December 2011, according to Diane Wehrle, research director at Springboard.
The increased popularity with the high street in contrast to other destinations could be explained by greater variety, she said.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government wants to see thriving town centres and we are doing all we can to support the retail sector. We are introducing measures such as our Fresh Start scheme to bring empty properties back into use and our Town Centre Review is tackling some of the long-standing issues by working with local councils to put the life back into our high streets.
"In these tough times we are maintaining Scotland's position as the most supportive business environment in the UK and our Small Business Bonus Scheme and other reliefs provide zero or reduced business rates for 63% of shops in Scotland."